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March 30, 2009

Godmother – a book review

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 7:58 pm

Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon

My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow – not what I expected. First of all there is a heavy sense of romance in this book which normally I am not drawn to. I fell in love with Lil and Vivian and George. The characters are so wonderful developed in this book that you want the best for them all. The ending surprised me, but was not unexpected. I highly recommend this book.

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Book Review

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 1:56 pm

What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy by Gregory Maguire

My review


rating: 3 of 5 stars
I thought this book was pretty good – the name for the tooth fairy’s was a little distracting and was not as enthralling or whimsical as I had hoped but the writing is very good.

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March 24, 2009

Disappointment/Deception?

Filed under: Uncategorized — writebrainit @ 2:02 pm

I have a publisher who appeared to be very interested in a picture book I have written. The response time to my submission was fairly quick, but I was not surprised as that was one of the strengths their website states. They have all sorts of information on the site, even identified key points they would like to see in a query letter. The responded with a couple of questions about illustrations and said they would get back to me.

A couple more weeks go by, I limit who I tell because I don’t want to jinx it and coping with disappointment is difficult enough alone, let alone having to repeatedly explain it to others. So the couple of weeks go by and I get an email asking me if I would pay several hundred dollars to their illustrator for 8-12 illustrations for the book. Did I hear this right?

I write back and ask for clarification – are you asking me to pay the artist and you want me to use your artist? Is this common for the smaller presses. I am assured it is, and yes I understood correctly and they would need the money before she would start the illustrations.

Thankfully the writers of the world work together and try to let others know what is going on, what is right and what should be questioned. Many are telling me to run, which I may (probably will) but I responded with some questions as this seems so unusual to me (as many of the writer’s beware sites indicate, this is not common and should not probably even be considered.)

The disappointment is that I thought I was so close to having a published children’s picture book. The excitement – a publisher was interested, maybe another will soon be as well.

Naming my Characters

Filed under: characters — writebrainit @ 12:41 pm
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I usually feel very inadequate in this role. My names usually seem way too simple and I seldomly put little effort into it. Sometimes as I get to know the character the name changes because it seems to fit better. I know there are all the recommended ideas of using baby books and such, but I wonder – how do you name your characters?

Recently I was very proud of myself for naming a character. When I learned Neil Gaiman had a new book coming out called The Graveyard Book, one of the first thoughts before even learning what the book was about was, ‘if I wrote a story about graveyard, what would I write about?’ That is how The Gravedigger came to be. After I was finished, and wasn’t really pleased with the names of the characters, I considered how I could find more suitable names and thought, ‘hmmmm…I wonder…’ As a kind of homage to Neil, I thought I would look for some name options from the book. Obviously I love the name Bod, but since that was so distinctive to this book, I couldn’t use it. I was, however, able to find some other names that with a little bit of tweaking, worked well in my own story.

Characters?

Filed under: 1st person,challenges,characterization,characters,description,story,writing — writebrainit @ 12:28 pm

I have been thinking a lot lately of how I develop characters and where they come from. Do they take on their own personality and is a part of the personalityme? The characters who tend to meet a lot to me, I think are a part of me. However, that can be scary as well. One of my most recent charmers is a true sociopath and he is also one of my favorites. Is he a part of me, oddly, I think so.

I think I actually put a part of me in all of my main characters – at least it appears to me to be that way when I am writing in the first person. Now working the the psychology field has allowed me to meet the occasional sociopath. The males have actually been one some of my favorite clients, but I also make sure to always remain on their good side.

Next I was trying to figure out – how do I develop the characters. I know there are a lot of different practices out there and I think most of them encourage writes to break it down, describe them, identify their history, etc. I am not sure that I work that way. I tend to tell their story. Sometimes I feel the need to describe them sometimes I don’t. When I write in first person, it doesn’t seem to be as necessary – unless their physical description and history is an imperative portion of the story, I leave it out. I enjoy leaving some of that to the imagination of the reader.

As a reader, I picture what I am reading. If I am reading about the little girl who lives down the lane, I encourage you to picture her, right now. I immediately picture a little girl about 7, tiny with blond hair. As I read the story any of the images have to change as descriptions are added, like when the writer comments on her red headed bob. Suddenly the image changes and the all of a sudden we learn she is twelve. I totally have to change my image and she becomes a tomboy in blue overalls. Yet there was no identification of her being a tomboy or wearing overalls. These are the images that my mind creates. I do not believe any of this to be a bad thing. I love that my mind is so full of creativity that all it takes is a couple of words, a phrase and I am able to picture something.

There’s a difference between developing a character for a novel and a short story. Short stories allow you such a small amount of time tell the story, that character description isn’t as important as the character development that occurs in the story. I love giving my characters a voice – each distinctive in their own ways. In novels, however, I believe I do have to give more character description. I have never really taken the time to write a character history for any of my characters in the novels I am working on – and I am recently wondering if it my be an experiment to try.

How do you develop your characters?

March 12, 2009

Writing Successes

Filed under: 1st person,critiquing,story,writers group,writing — writebrainit @ 12:23 am

I often wonder what it means for me to be successful in my writing. Today was one of those days. The first thing that made it successful actually happened earlier this week, but it is not a sure thing, so I am not going to speak of it further as I don’t want to jinx it. The second, I will discuss.

I have mentioned for awhile a story that I was working on getting transcribed and it was moving rather slowly. The initial story was written by hand – and a rather dark story. I liked it that way. I felt it had a good voice and told a story worth reading. As I transcribed it a dark humor came from the character which I didn’t particularly like. Sometimes though I believe the story has to tell itself. A few weeks ago, I read the first half to a fairly positive response. They gave me some pointers which really helped and in reading it aloud to others, I caught some things that did not work for me.

Now it was time to finish typing/revising the rest and every time I began to work on it, I was distracted and could not seem to get it completed. Last night I made the effort to actually get it done and before this evenings meeting I fine-tuned it to the point that I thought it would be presentable to the group. It was there, I wasn’t quite sure of the end, seemed a little dull to the rest of the story, but I also made some changes to it that allowed it to end.

I was lucky enough to get to read tonight. The response was wonderful at times, I found myself pausing because the laughter was taking away from the next sentence. One time I even laughed at a part I had just read and had to apologize to get back on focus to read. This story which was not funny to me, which I did not want to be funny, was actually funny. The odd thing is that today when I reviewed the story before reading it to the group – I was pleased because I felt more of the dark story was back. When reading it to the group, I think I realized that I had finally succumbed to the humor and realized it was important to the story.

The critiques were much better than I had expected. My group is wonderful about catching words which are repeated – I always appreciate that because that is something I often miss. Sometimes, there is this desire for more detail, ‘I need to know what smells, sounds, descriptions of what the blood looked like.’ I realized that I had left much of that out of this story so I was prepared to hear some of that. I heard only one – there is one sound that one person felt was needed. I will look at it. This read felt good, I was so pleasantly surprised at the praise it received and besides the group leader writing ‘wow‘ on her note to me, she pointed out when one of my peers commented that he believes it is  ‘sheer genius‘ when a writer can create and tell a story that happens in such a small space – he went on to explain that he was referring to the fact that this story happens in the space of something like 30 square feet. I can’t do justice to his compliment without feeling like I am embellishing (one of the nice things about the written critiques in addition to the verbal – but they are not required and he didn’t do one.) Anyhow – who wouldn’t love having someone refer to one of their stories as having an element of ‘sheer genius?’Another comment which really was positive and brought me a sense of pride was a peer’s comment that he liked my ‘first person narrative.

Often, I put my stories away after a critique. I allow them to sit for awhile and then edit them before looking at my notes again. I am not sure I will be doing that with this story. I am going to leave it alone until the weekend and then I want to edit it. I have a couple of magazines in mind aleady for where to start submitting and can hardly wait to get it out there.

I started this post off talking about the success of writing and what it means – to me it means, finishing  a story, writing, hearing praise and feeling proud of what I have written. What does it mean to you to have a ‘writing success?’

March 6, 2009

Book Recommendation – Peaks and Valleys

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Peaks and Valleys: Making Good And Bad Times Work For You--At Work And In Life Peaks and Valleys: Making Good And Bad Times Work For You–At Work And In Life by Spencer Johnson

My review


rating: 5 of 5 stars
Peaks and Valleys is a wonderful book. A very quick read – I read it over one of my lunch hours. I have always liked Who Moved My Cheese and repeatedly had brought that book out to re-read when I am feeling a little stuck. Peaks and Valleys encourages me to look at things differently – I may get stuck in a valley occasionally, but it all depends on how I look at it. What maybe a valley, could actually be a peak – it’s all in my focus. I encourage everyone to read it and can’t wait to start sharing it with my family.

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March 4, 2009

Creativity

Filed under: writers group — writebrainit @ 10:08 am
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Well the 4th Annual Omaha Film Festival is over this year. I know the people who put it on hard work hard to do it, and while their is always this joy and excitement behind it – there is that ‘I will be glad when this week is over’ feeling as well. Not for me, I am there absolutely as much as I can and I love the opportunity it offers me. I am thankful for the trust they put in my role with the festival – from the first year, I have been one of the people they chose to drive some of the guest speakers, directors and more to transport them around town. This kind of opportunity does not present itself often, but I won’t really go into detail there.

The first year I was mainly responsible for a man who was more than a little pompous to put it politely and we didn’t start off on the best foot since he wanted to be their 1/2 hour early and I took him to the wrong building (who knew that Creighton has four buildings with the name Lied starting them off – and it was a screenwriting presentation, so why would I not assume it was at the Lied Performing Arts Center). Anyhow, part of the reason they had given me this assignment was to be able to sit in on his presentation and learn. I was so frustrated with the attitude this man had towards me that, I couldn’t make myself go into the room. I also think I feared he would have me running more errands that weren’t really in my duties – I did really get some fun stories from this guy and the things he assumed.

I did sit in on the seminar the second day when the two presenters sat on a panel and answered questions regarding screenwriting. When I was driving the speaker who had caused me grief to the airport – he was the most friendly he had been the whole weekend and commented that he had not seen me in any of the seminars. Now I wanted to say the real reason he had not, but replied that I was a lot busier than I had realized I was going to be. He spent the whole time on the way to the airport asking about me – now true it was only about 15 minutes, but it was nice. He even suggested that I contact him if I ever completed a screenplay for his input. He also said he hoped to be invited back to the Festival sometime in the future. Now really this is one of those ‘time and place’ opportunities that happen so seldomly.

I get a real secondary gain (probably third, fourth and fifth gains as well) from working at the festival. It continues to stir my creative juices – it excites me for what I write and motives me to do more and do more with it. I am also always pleasently surprised by the people I meet and get to spend time with. It’s funny how artists attract artists. I am constantly amazed with the people I meet and am drawn to – especially when I find out they themselves are artists. I met this great couple this weekend who were so helpful and a couple of the more reliable volunteers – I believe they had been there the last two years as well and we had met, but the opportunity to get to know them better did not present itself and it did this weekend. It wasn’t until the closing party that I learned they are also writers – I was so excited to learn this and told them about the writing group I belong to and encouraged them to come.

Time to write – and be excited for next year’s Omaha Film Festival – I am sure it will be special since it will mark their 5th year.

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